Limit Hold'em: The Flop

The flop is a decisive point in any hand of poker. Three cards are dealt in the middle of the poker table, giving you the chance to form a five-card hand for the first time. It's here where the strength of your starting hand can change completely. Even if you checked in the big blind holding , you can suddenly have a very strong hand on a board of . On the other hand, a very strong hand such as may suddenly look very weak when the flop comes - you've only got a pair of queens with an ace kicker, and all opponents with an or have you beat. It is therefore important to re-evaluate your hand in terms of board texture, and adjust your strategy to the new conditions. How you should do this, and other things you should keep in mind is explained in this article.

Hand evaluation and strategies

It's useful to divide all the hands that you can have on the flop into certain categories, as the distinction between made hands and drawing hands is important. If you have at least a pair and therefore a realistic chance of winning without having to improve your hand, then you have a made hand. When you have a marginal hand that isn't strong, but has the potential to improve considerably then you are on a draw.

  • Example of a made hand on the Flop:

You are holding and the flop is . Your made hand is - a pair of kings with an ace kicker.

  • Example of a draw on the Flop:

You have and the flop brings . Since you already have four clubs (), only one club is missing to complete your flush with two cards still to come. Therefore you are on a flush draw.

Strong and very strong made hands

These include: top pair, i.e. a pair of queens or higher, with top kicker, overpairs ( or higher) as well as two pair or better. If you have a strong hand you should almost always bet or raise and hardly ever fold.

  • Example of a strong made hand on the Flop:

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    You have in middle position and raise. Only the button calls. The flop is , which means you're holding top pair with the best possible kicker. You therefore have a very strong made hand () and should bet. If your opponent raises, your hand is strong enough to re-raise.

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